Archive for Oktober 2011

An incredible will to learn: that’s the actual coffee addiction!

Nadia Rossi from Dalla Corte (sponsor of NBC ) send me an interesting report about the Nordic Barista Cup event held in Copenhagen in the end of august 2011. Here are her personal impressions.

Nordic Barista Cup, August 2011 (Quelle: Dalla Corte)

Nordic Barista Cup, August 2011 (Quelle: Dalla Corte)

Coffee lovers are eager to widen their knowledge about coffee as far as its technical-scientific, tasting
and practical aspects are concerned. That is why in 2003 a group of friends and enthusiasts, SCAE founders, created the Nordic Barista Cup, an event in which theory and practice meet in a pleasantly informal environment, where people work but also exchange ideas, experience and – why not? – have fun.

The event, an international brain storming on Northern European coffee, took place from the 25 to the 27 of August in Copenhagen, Denmark: three days full of meetings, lectures, trials and the competitions of five teams of baristas from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland. The event was open to 200 people only, in order to facilitate people’s participation and exchange.
The event was held at the Life Science faculty, where a lecture room hosted the lectures, while the hall was destined to meetings and competitions: here 10 Dalla Corte dc pro espresso machines
worked at very intense paces – that’s what happened during the Nordic Roaster 2011 competition, when 2000 espresso cups were prepared in 45 minutes. Dalla Corte was one of the sponsors of the NBC held in Copenhagen, where the first Dalla Corte Espresso Cup specimens were distributed – commemorative cups of the events in which the Proof of Taste plays a leading role.

The pleasure of doing and learning, day after day
Quick (and absolutely incomplete) report of three intense days of theory and practice, work and entertainment in the world of coffee. It is difficult to keep your aplomb when you are at the Nordic Barista Cup: the enthusiasm and pleasure of meeting people who share your same interests in a totally informal way gain the upper hand and make any experience more natural. This positive climate could be perceived on Thursday, August 24, when all participants were welcomed and the competing teams of baristas were presented. This is obviously not going to be a detailed report of the three-day event, which focused mainly on sensoriality, but rather an account of the parts that have stricken us most. First of all, the considerable effort of the competitors, who were judged not only in the practical competitions – the rules of which are often communicated shortly before they start (the first NBC rule being… no rules!) – but also for their ability in working together and learning from the various lectures: a total commitment, indeed. Let’s start, then!

Friday, August 25. The first day topic was Theory and Science. A rich buffet breakfast – convivial
pleasures always play a protagonist role at NBC – was followed by a lecture by Jannie S. Vestergaard
and Micheel Bom Frøst, who introduced us to “Myth busting in sensory science”. Where is bitter taste perceived? “On the back of the tongue” many will say. And yet, if a paper soaked with a bitter
substance is placed on the tip of the tongue, its taste can be perceived here as well! Therefore, tastes can be recognized by the whole oral cavity, not only by some “apposite” parts.
Another easy and interesting “experiment” was: pinch your nose and taste a candy, then release your nose. Notice what you perceive throughout this action: at first, only its tactile part will be perceived, such as its sweet taste; you will then sense its flavours: they contribute to complete your tasting experience and so does sight – it is difficult recognize the flavours of liquids of the same colour contained in two identical bottles. The restaurant owner and sommelier Anders Selmer then talked about the sensory and organoleptic couplings with coffee and more. What followed was an introduction to biochemistry in specialty coffee by Morten Munchow and Jakob Tjelum: their lecture ranged from the table of elements to caffeine, down to the difference between green and roasted coffee taste. The first competition was based on smell: the contents of some takeaway glasses had to be recognised by simply smelling them – not an easy task, really!
Later, we were introduced to Sumatra coffees by Will Corby and then we had lunch.

The afternoon started with the “Rush hour” competition, simulating the work in a bar: one of the competitors gathered the orders, two others carried them out at the coffee machine, the fourth served the drinks to the tables; the precision, speed and professionalism of each team were judged. Joseph Rivera then illustrated the chemistry of coffee, focussing on the acids in green coffee and on those forming during the roasting process (acetic, lactic, formic and citric) – these play a fundamental role in the definition of coffee flavours and taste profile, which is absolutely one of the most complex. Coffees to which different types of acids had been added were then tasted and the different results in terms of taste and body were evaluated.
From coffee to beer: a lecture by Morten Ibsen on the beer production process and components, followed by a pleasant tasting of the six varieties of Jacobsen beer, a Carlsberg trademark.

Saturday, August 26. The second day focussed on coffee flavours. After breakfast, the biologist Morten Munchow told us about a research he has been carrying out for over a year in order to define a method to measure the quality of milk foam. A software that “reads” pictures has helped him to trace a curve of its evolution. His aim is to identify the precise steps leading to the ideal foam, and subsequently to an excellent cappuccino or milk&coffee drink: the research is going on.

Stephen Wick, dealing with quality control, then presented the results of a research carried out to identify the containers that best preserve coffee during its journey from plantation to roasters. Experiments with vacuum boxes, plastic bags and other containers were presented… and each presentation was followed by a cupping of the relevant coffee. These tests pointed out the scarce incidence of transport on the quality of the final product, provided it is made correctly. In the afternoon, James Hoffman, coffee roaster and World Barista Champion in 2007, presented the history of the espresso from its origins to present times and concluded with an invitation-provocation to the audience to “reinvent” this product.

A quick break, then a really exciting competition started: the Nordic Roaster 2011 – espresso. Ten roasters competed with their roasted coffee blends and the jury was formed by all the participants: 200 people. Ten Dalla Corte machines then worked at full pace, each one brewing 200 espressos of the same blend, while the baristas teams passed from machine to machine to collect the 10 extractions and took them to each judge, who had to choose the best espresso, motivating his/ her choice. In 45 minutes, 2000 espressos smoothly invaded the hall. The competition was won by Solberg & Hansen – a result we are very pleased of, since they are Dalla Corte dealers in Norway!

Sunday, August 27. The day was dedicated to the Nordic taste, i.e. the peculiar way to interpret
coffee in Northern European Countries. Anders Selmer, sommelier and restaurant owner, presented the (poor) gastronomic tradition of these lands, underlying the deep cultural gap between chef and barista that results in the average poor quality of coffees served in restaurants.
The following lecturer was Tim Wendelboe, World Barista Champion in 2004, who gave his own
interpretation of the Nordic coffee tradition, on which many lectures and competitions then focussed on. The most original competition was certainly the one in which a coffee drink had to be produced with added ingredients such as apples, honey, vegetables, potatoes … typical products of the local gastronomic culture, processed with any method: steam-cooked, blended, centrifuged… The cupping was carried out by judges only … only they knew what surprising tastes those drinks revealed!

As every year, the event was the occasion to raise funds for an NBC charity project that this year has
concerned the creation of a school for coffee growers in Sidkalang, a northern district of Sumatra. Finally, the winners were proclaimed – and glory was their only trophy: the components of the Swedish team, who stood out for their ability to create pleasant and harmonious drinks, to present and defend their ideas, to work with professionalism also under pressure and to demonstrate great efficiency in carrying out the tasks they were given. Congratulations to all!
The next Nordic Barista Cup will be held in August 2012 in Copenhagen and its participants will come
together once again to “Be together, act together, learn together”.

http://www.nordicbaristacup.com; text and picture resource: Dalla Corte


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